Learning About Work From Our Parents

The great Mike Monteiro, on how he learned about client services (he’s a designer) from his mother, the seamstress:

I was very lucky growing up: my mom was a seamstress. Admittedly, this meant being marched off to school in a series of plum-colored home-sewn leisure suits throughout the late 70s. But for all the shame and inorganic fabric I endured, I also got to watch my mom work. The way a seamstress approaches her work isn’t too far off from a designer. They decide to take on a client. They discuss your goals, which in her case were usually wedding dresses, her specialty. They discuss the wedding venue, the number of guests, how classy an affair it was going to be. And after a glass of wine they discussed whether the dress would be white and everyone would giggle. Then mom would bring out a photo album of dresses she’d made for other brides, everyone would go through it oohing and ahhing. More wine would be poured. At some point the bridal magazines would come out and pages would get ripped out and taped to a wall.

I’m fascinated by what we learn from the work our parents do, or don’t get to do. My mom, for instance, dropped out of school to marry my dad but then, a few years after having kids, got a job as a realtor at Century 21 (gold jackets, oh yes). When I asked her how much it paid she said, “Just enough to pay for you girls to go to daycare.” Understandable, yet devastating.

Photo: daBinsi

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